Mission-Critical Recruitment?

Is it just me or would most people (candidates, HR professionals and hiring managers alike) prefer to be plugged directly into a UPS than spend time engaged in a recruitment process?

Much has been made over the last few years of the ever-increasing skills gap within the data centre industry.

It has been well publicised that according to research, the “average” DC Engineer is a 55-year-old male. For an industry that doubles in size every 4 years, this has to be a concern. As arguably the least well-known, fastest growing industry in the world, the truth is the vast majority of the population have no idea where or how data is stored.

 

Solving the Hiring Challenges

The long-term view to solving this problem surely has to be to attract more young people, particularly females into the field. There are some small steps being made, such as Ireland introducing the first DC-specific bachelor’s degree in 2017, but more needs to be done quicker in order to prevent an impact on the project growth.

A topic discussed less frequently, but to my mind something which many data centre operators need to address in 2019, is their short term hiring “strategy” (in many cases I use the term loosely I'm afraid).

For such a highly regulated and process driven industry, it is slightly ironic that so many inadvertently have a procedure in place, which in practice, becomes a "let's piss off as many candidates as possible" strategy.

Is it time for operators to view their recruitment strategy with the same level of criticality as their uptime?

 

Recruitment Strategy

Competition for the best people in this industry is fierce. With continuing hyperscale demand, coupled by the growth in edge data centres to support IoT & AI, this competition will increase significantly over the next few years. When operators are competing for staff with companies like Google & Facebook, who are regularly voted in the Top 10 places to work in the world, they need to do everything they can to help themselves.

 

Candidate Attraction

A good place to start could be to stop regularly damaging their brand and reputation and treat their candidates with the same level of respect they afford their customers / tenants.

Clearly there are a huge number of poorly trained recruiters who don't have the skills or inclination to make an effort. There are also still a few dinosaur managers within the corporate world, who think they are doing the world a favour by having a job vacancy. Having said that, for the most part, I firmly believe that recruiters, hiring managers and HR all want to treat candidates with dignity. It's generally the process (not the people) which prevents this.

This is not a criticism of the DC industry per se, because as far as I can tell these issues apply to every industry. I am fortunate enough to work with some great clients who really understand the importance of a “candidate friendly” (if there is such a thing), organised, structured and consistent recruitment process in attracting the best people in the market to their business. There are others who I may need to make the difficult decision to walk away from in 2019.

I'm sure I have been guilty of contributing to this problem at times over the last 12 years, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. It is however something I'm striving to address. In a series of short blogs over the next few months, I would like to explore what I see as some easily implementable solutions to make the process of hiring data centre professionals a little less painful for everyone involved.

 

What do you think is wrong with the recruitment process in the data centre industry and how do you think it could be improved?

 

References: "On Recruitment" by Mitch Sullivan, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Recruitment-Mitch-Sullivan-ebook/dp/B07638HGNH  | Greg Savage, http://gregsavage.com.au/

 

Posted by Ward Hampton



Ward graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2004 with a BSc in Chemistry. He has over 10 years’ experience providing permanent and freelance recruitment solutions within Construction, Property and Engineering across the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions. He has particularly strong networks within the data centre industry covering design & construction, operations & facilities management and colocation sales roles.